Thursday, May 21, 2015

Conservation recognition and the Gilbert Doble story

I blogged a few weeks ago about the Marrickville Winged Victory conservation project and I am delighted to report that our work won a National Trust Heritage Award at last Wednesday’s Award presentations.

What is interesting about the project is that we still have not worked out how Gilbert Doble made his sculptures. A local Marrickville lad, he was clearly a bit of an oddball. At a time when any significant bronze foundry work had to be sent to England, he developed a home grown electro-deposition process that he perfected himself in his own studio in his back garden in Marrickville. Even after we have been intimately involved with the Winged Victory we still can’t quite work out how he did it.
The Winged Victory conservation team inspecting the sculpture 

The interesting thing is that, despite the failure of his Winged Victory sculpture (it only lasted 40 years before coming apart at the seams and needing to be brought down for safety reasons), his other public sculptures have lasted well. These include the Evans Memorial in Bathurst, notable according to the local guidebook for “its respectful depiction of an Aboriginal man crouched at Evans' knee - representing one of the Aboriginals who acted as a guide for Evans on his surveys.” 

George Evans Memorial, Bathurst

As well as Winged Victory, Doble was also commissioned to undertake two other memorials, for Wellington and Pyrmont. At a time when war memorials were either a block of stone or had a soldier atop them, his approach was distinctive, avoiding the militaristic nature of such and concentrating on the mix of grief and motherly support to the fallen that his female figures depicted.

Wellington Cenotaph, NSW

Pyrmont War Memorial

A fun side story of this project is that it has all been filmed as part of a 5 part documentary on the Australian War Memorial called 'The Memorial: Beyond the Anzac legend' put together by the Eye Works team for the History Channel. Neil Oliver (he of ‘Coast’ fame) fronted the cameras and kept us all entertained with his charming Scottish accent. 

The Winged Victory conservation team with Neil Oliver

And while we are on awards, I will just slip in that we also won a Highly Commended for our work on the Sydney Town Hall Air Raid Shelter signIt was a good day for recognition of expert conservation practice.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

First World War memorials in Australia

Last year I was asked to write an article on First World War memorials in Australia for the UK National Trust’s Views Magazine. It was published in September 2014 and it seems apposite to retell in my blog today. 

By the time the Great War ground to a close in November 1918, 416,600 Australians had enlisted out of a population of 4 million, representing almost 40 per cent of men aged between 18 and 44. Australia's casualty rate was amongst the highest in the war at 65 per cent, including almost 59,000 dead.

The impact on a small and new nation (Australia had become a federation only in 1901) was profound. One of the most difficult issues to come to terms with was the remoteness of the battlefields. Whereas Britons could easily cross the Channel to visit the graves of their loved ones, the high cost of travel to visit Europe was beyond most Australians. As with Britain (but unlike the USA), the Australian Government made the decision not to repatriate any bodies from the war. The only exceptions were the body of an unknown Australian soldier and Major General Sir William Throsby Bridges, killed in Gallipoli, who was the country’s first major general and the first to receive a knighthood.

The war memorial scene in Australia
War memorials and their honour rolls therefore became critical points of remembrance for grieving relatives. They were not new to the country as Australians had died in relatively large numbers in the South African War in the 1890s and even in the New Zealand wars of the 1840s. But it was the sheer number of Great War memorials that transformed Australian townscapes.

Their form followed those created in Britain. They range from statues of soldiers to obelisks to arches and cenotaphs. Some of the designs were uniquely Australian, such as depicting Australian Diggers (soldiers), and almost without exception they used local stone except for imported carved figures in Carrara marble.

The city response
In the capital cities, Melbourne chose a vast Shrine of Remembrance with an inner shrine surrounded by an ambulatory where books in glass-topped cabinets record the names of the 114,000 men from Victoria who went to the war, a fresh page turned every day to this day. Sydney also chose to record all those who had gone to the war in its Anzac Memorial, not by name but by a gold star attached to the domed ceiling, some 120,000 in all. Beneath them, in the so-called Well of Contemplation, lies one of Australia's greatest bronze figures, a naked warrior carried on a shield supported by three women sculpted by Raynor Hoff, a Royal College of Art-educated Englishman of Dutch descent who had migrated to Australia in 1923. Considered somewhat shocking at the time of opening in 1934, it was heavily toned down from the original bronze concept entitled the Crucifixion of Civilisation, which had been denounced by clergyman for depicting tastelessly vivid horrors.

A mile from the Anzac Memorial, Sydney commissioned a stone cenotaph outside the City's General Post Office designed by Australia's most eminent sculptor of the day, the Royal Academician Sir Bertram Mackennal. Mackennal chose to place a bronze soldier and sailor either end of a large block of local granite. Brisbane initially commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to replicate the Whitehall Cenotaph with the addition of bronze servicemen but when this proved too costly they went for a Delphic-colonnaded temple designed by local architects.

 The Cenotaph, Sydney. Photo: Julian Bickersteth

The Anzac Memorial, Brisbane. Photo: Julian Bickersteth

The National Memorial in Canberra, known as the Australian War Memorial, was conceived and developed by an Oxford-educated Australian journalist, Charles Bean. Bean had reported from the Western Front and after the war ended was determined to do all he could to help Australians commemorate their loss. Principal amongst his means of doing this was the creation of the Australian War Memorial, which is actually a war museum centred on a Hall of Memory. This vast domed space is covered by the southern hemisphere's largest mosaic, designed by Australian artist Napier Waller. Waller was himself a war veteran; having lost his right arm on the Western Front but, undaunted he taught himself to draw again with his left hand.

Placement of guns
Bean also struck upon the idea of shipping back to Australia large quantities of captured ordnance. Again he saw the power in the tangible form of these weapons in bringing the battlefields a little closer to Australia. In all some 500 pieces of artillery, 400 mortars and 4,000 machine guns were shipped back and held in Melbourne for cities and local councils across Australia to apply for them. Due to over demand, a complicated system of ceding where each item of ordnance would end up was developed based on the number of men that had enlisted locally, the number of medals won and whether the particular gun had been captured by a local battalion. The allocation did not please everyone, with some councils complaining that they had only been awarded a machine gun when their war contribution surely justified at least a mortar.

Trees and arches
Avenues of trees are a particular feature of Australian war memorials. They came about as a reminder of the avenues of trees that lined northern French roads, beneath which the Australian Diggers would have marched. The avenues serve the useful purpose of allowing individual trees to be planted as a memorial to a slain relative or platoon. Occasionally these avenues begin with triumphal arches, a form which does not seem to have become widely popular due almost certainly to its celebratory tone.

The Ballarat Arch of Victory and Avenue of Trees. Photo: Chris Betteridge

Conservation issues
Conservation work undertaken on war memorials reflects the broad approach taken in Great Britain and generally involves careful cleaning, repointing to keep them weather tight, re-gilding of incised lettering and protective waxing of bronze honour rolls and figures.

It is the guns shipped back from France and placed on top of many an Australian war memorial that often prove to be the most problematic element for the memorial's conservation due to the metal elements corroding and the wooden elements (e.g. wheels) rotting. The numbers of the most fragile of them, however, the machine guns, were dramatically reduced during the Second World War when they were removed and refurbished for action.

With the passage of time, war memorials have inevitably deteriorated, but it is a testament to the resilience of the materials selected and the care with which they were built that they remain in remarkably good condition.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Winged Victory rises again

Seated in the sun outside Marrickville Town Hall in Sydney on Sunday morning to witness the unveiling of the Marrickville War Memorial I was thinking back 93 years to the same ceremony. The great difference of course was that the audience then included mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and even children of the 458 local lads who had so recently given their lives. 

Marrickville War Memorial Opening Ceremony, 1922

That said almost 100 years on it was a very moving experience to be part of, but, you may well ask, why was a war memorial being unveiled now.

The original Marrickville Soldiers’ Memorial was unveiled in 1919 by Sir Walter Davidson, Governor of NSW, before 15,000 people. The monument for the top of the Memorial was created by local artist and sculptor Gilbert Doble. Doble created a hollow Winged Victory sculpture, surrounded by a copper cast that created a dominant artwork within the tight constraints of the Memorial Fund’s budget. The instability of the resulting artwork became apparent as early as 1927. Within 40 years, the condition of the sculpture had deteriorated so badly that it had to be taken down in 1962. Despite being returned to the Memorial in 1988 following restoration work, the continued instability of the Winged Victory sculpture saw its removal a second time in 2008.

Gilbert Doble's original Winged Victory sculpture

Here at ICS we considered various options for restoring and reinstalling the statue but in July 2013, Marrickville Council voted to commission a new sculpture for the Memorial. Council also endorsed the transfer of ownership of Doble’s original Winged Victory to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. We undertook the complicated restoration of the original and oversaw its transfer to Canberra, where the sculpture has now become the focal point of the Memorial’s new First World War Galleries, which opened in November 2014. 

Doble's Winged Victory sculpture 
now on display at the Australian War Memorial

Meanwhile Winged Victory, 2015 was commissioned from Melbourne's Meridian Sculpture with lead artists Peter Corlett and Darien Pullen in cast bronze. Reflecting and respecting the original Doble sculpture, there are subtle changes, most noticeably with the position of the sword changed from being raised in triumph to pointing down to touch the earth (‘earth to earth, ashes to ashes’ etc). Along the way it stopped the sword from being a lightning rod, which we had discovered was a significant cause of the damage that had been inflicted to the original. 

Winged Victory, 2015 by Peter Corlett and Darien Pullen

So Doble’s legacy lives on, both in original form at the Australian War Memorial and in reinterpreted form in its original location, and the citizens of Marrickville once again have a focal point to honour their local war heroes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why we take audio tours

I must be honest that the audio guide desk is not something I regularly head for in museums. Why? My immediate response would be that a) I don’t have time and b) I have listened to too many overly didactic and drawn out commentaries. I have blogged before on the technology challenges to the traditional audio guide (January 2011February 2011, August 2012February 2015). A few years on from some of those blogs, the predicted smartphone take over has not happened with the audio tour still very much alive and well. My view is that visitors have decided the distraction of a further visual aid in what is already a highly visual experience, particularly in an art museum, is too much of a sensory overload.

Technology aside, it is fascinating to see what drives people to take up audio tours through new research by the British Museum, entitled 'An audio state of mind: Understanding behaviour around audio guides and visitor media'. Their starting point was the perceived low take up (160,000 out of nearly 7 million visitors) with the aim being to increase this and also understand how visitors use the audio guides.

Amongst a number of interesting discoveries:
  • Time plays a key role (I can empathise with that) with many visitors presuming the audio tour will take a long time (though the definition of ‘a long time’ varied between three and six hours) and force them to spend more time than they had.
  • It appears that the traditional visitor segmentation of streakers, strollers and studiers (see my blog from October 2011) is poorly servicing our understanding of visitors, with people moving between segments during visits, displaying much more personalised and flexible motivations and identities.
  • Confidence plays an important role, namely whether the visitor feels they can successfully negotiate the museum unaided, relying on labels.
  • Many visitors come knowing what they want to see, but once they have done so, they tend to wander aimlessly, a perfect time to take up an audio guide, if they could be corralled to be offered such.
A couple of other points. This research is from a paper due to be given at Museums and the Web 2015 in Chicago next week. Having been to three previous ones, the MW annual conference, now in its 19th year, remains for me the most wide ranging of the mainstream museum technology get-togethers, the others being the more US based MCN (Museum Computer Network) and the more European based MuseumNext.

Also I liked the way this project was put together. Described as an ‘agile‘ project, it had a small team of one staff member, three free lancers and an intern, a defined time scale, a project room, daily ‘scrums’, an initial research phase, and then a prototype testing phase, resulting in some really useful outputs.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Antarctic Matters

The heroic era of Antarctic exploration which ran from 1899 to the middle of the First War is the period which most captures our imagination, through the extraordinary exploits of, in particular, Captain Scott and Ernest Shackleton. There was then a lull in exploration proceedings, with only one expedition between the wars, the British Graham Land Expedition 1934-37. On that was a young Cambridge graduate, Lancelot Fleming, who after a stellar Antarctic career including becoming director of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, turned his collar round (as my father would say) eventually becoming Dean of St George's Windsor and knighted by the Queen. I met him in his latter years, a distinguished tall and charming man who bothered to engage with a scruffy teenager (me).

Fleming was highly influential in encouraging Vivian Fuchs, better known as Bunny Fuchs, to lead the first major post war expedition, the British Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1957-58. Forty years after Shackleton had tried to cross Antarctica and failed when the Endurance broke up in the Weddell Sea, the expedition's idea was to travel the 2000 miles across the continent via the South Pole.

As Fuchs needed a base on the far side of the continent from which food and fuel depots could be laid for him, he approached the New Zealand government for help. As that year was also the International Geophysical Year which brought together countries from around the world to carry out coordinated research in a number of the physical sciences, New Zealand warmed to the idea and appointed Sir Edmund Hillary, he of recent Everest conquest, to lead their part of the expedition.

The story of that expedition, its highs and lows, its risks and personality clashes is beautifully told in Stephen Haddelsey's 'Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the Crossing of Antarctica'. It's a great yarn, the two different styles of leadership illustrated by the form of transport used, Fuchs with his snow cats and Hillary with his converted Ferguson farm tractors. Visit the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch New Zealand if you want to see surviving examples of both.

 Fuchs' Snowcats

Hillary's Ferguson Tractors

Anyway, this is all a preamble to an event which I was lucky enough to attend in Parliament House, Wellington last week at which the Antarctic Heritage Trust's Conservation Plan for the surviving hut that was built as part of that expedition was launched by the Prime Minister, John Key. Known variously as Hillary's Hut, the TAE (Trans Antarctic Expedition) Hut and the IGY (International Geophysical Year) Hut, it was the first building at Scott Base. The Plan was authored by Chris Cochrane, and I have been part of a peer review, so it was very special to talk to key men in the original construction, including Randall Heke who physically built it, Bill Cranfield who was on the expedition, and Hillary's widow, June. The hut marked the beginning of New Zealand's major contribution to Antarctic exploration and science, of which they are very justifiably proud.

Hillary's Hut at Scott Base

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Museum Effect and where technology fits in (or doesn't)

The American Alliance for Museums (AAM) has recently initiated a great chat site known as Museum Junction, which is continually throwing up useful information. One recent discussion was on museological books, and I was drawn to a contributor identifying The Museum Effect by Jeffrey K. Smith as being his best read of the year. Subtitled 'How Museums, Libraries and Cultural Institutions Educate and Civilise Society', it sounded like an interesting book.

And it delivers what it promises, albeit from a strongly art gallery focus, which is where the author's experience lies. I have a few gripes with its content and style, one being I don't see how the process of viewing art (described as 'The 'Right' way to look at art') can be discussed without reference in either the text or the chapter references to Kenneth Clark (see my blog on 'How to look at art' from September 2009) especially as the process described is exactly what Clark proscribed. Another is that two images turn up twice, one being a full page in each instance, which smacks to me of page filling.

However, having got that off my chest, two particular issues struck a chord with me. The first is the extensive discussion on visitor surveys, how to construct and run them, and what to make of the data they provide. This builds off the direct and extensive experience of the author whilst working at the Met, but it cites various case studies at other organisations as well - all very useful stuff for those in the business of such.

The second is the chapter on media available to present information to visitors. There is discussion on the options both current and future, including labels and wall text, audio tours, in-person tours, reading rooms and catalogues, and off-site website access. Finally there is mention of what are described as 'video tours'. The potential delivery technology for such is not mentioned, whether it is NFC, QR codes, or RFID readers, nor the vehicle for such whether they be smartphones, Google Glass, iPads, or even 3D visuals delivered through Nintendo game consoles, as is the case at the Louvre.

As I read I had pause to reflect that here was an expert writing from within one of the great art museums of the world, and making a very pertinent point "Do we really want to draw the attention of the visitor away from the work of art... with a video screen in competition with oil on wood or gouache on paper?"

Good point, Jeffery K. Smith, and for me as one who has long espoused the virtues of technology for enhancing the visitor experience, it is a salutary one.

Monday, February 2, 2015

British Museum conservation

The new British Museum conservation labs have been the talk of the profession since they opened late last year, so I was pleased to have a tour of them with Dr Anna Buelow, the acting head of conservation, two weeks ago.  

The raw data is that the BM has built a new £135 million facility known as the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre, which brings together all their conservation labs into one building over 18,000 square metres along with the Museum's exhibition operations and a new exhibition space.

A full description can be found in the latest News in Conservation, the free publication of IICso I will not dwell on the detail, but rather pick up my takeaways from the visit:
  • First and foremost is the flexibility that has been achieved. It seems to have become a key buzz word in the planning process, and it has resulted in spaces that can be almost infinitely reconfigured to suit the requirements of the objects being worked on. This is helped by almost all staff (some 80 at present) hot desking, thus ensuring it is easy for staff to relocate to another space that may suit the treatment better.
  • Alongside this flexibility is the benefits that have come from bringing all the disciplines under one roof, and encouraging cross disciplinary use of spaces. Thus, textiles and paper now share a wet space, which is not only more efficient but ensures the two sections work closely together in their planning. This process of cross disciplinary collaboration is further aided by a central break out area with comfy chairs, where for the first time in living memory all the departments can get together socially. 
  • And just as this brings about efficiencies of operations, so also ease of access has been massively increased. Previously any large objects had to be brought into the labs through the exhibition halls, thus meaning it had to be undertaken out of hours. Now with dedicated loading dock access (including the largest truck lift in Europe), all this movement can take place during normal hours.
  • Finally, what particularly struck me is that the labs are not full of sparkling new state of the art equipment, not that they don't present very smartly. The money has been spent more subtly on flexible furniture (see above) and quality finishes, such as beautiful polished concrete floors in the sculpture labs with much of the tried and tested equipment brought from the old labs.
Well done to the BM - Seven years of planning has produced a model to us all on how to develop a conservation facility for current times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

In defence of Egyptian conservators

Reading about the botched beard reattachment job on King Tut in the London Times on Friday, I had my doubts as to whether this was really the work of my conservator colleagues in Egypt. So I am glad to read in today’s Art Daily that the director of the Egyptian Museum, Dr Mahmoud al-Helwagy has denied that conservators were involved, strongly defending them, saying “This is illogical and inconceivable. These are conservation workers, not carpenters.”

But let’s recap on what we do know of the story so far (which I suspect has some way to run yet). It appears that a maintenance worker noted a light was out in the glass case that houses King Tutankhamun’s funerary mask in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, which  just happens to be one of the great treasures of the world. In the process of removal, the case hit the mask and it almost fell off its pedestal, saved by a lunging curator who grabbed it in his arms. Unfortunately the lunge was just not quite delicate enough (such being the nature of lunges) and the beard fell off. I can’t imagine what language was used at the time but it would have been a jaw dropping moment for all involved.

Whereupon all hell clearly broke loose, the loudest voice being the one that yelled ‘pass me the epoxy quickly’. A hasty repair was executed and the beard was soon back in its rightful position. Two problems folks, however, arise. Number one is that, although epoxy is used in conservation, it is extremely difficult to reverse and should only be used when no other adhesive can take the strain and after much discussion around the proposed treatment. Secondly and more obviously, the repair is clearly crooked, which is what alerted the outside world to the problem in the first place.

How can this happen, you rightly ask? Well, firstly, accidents do happen - check out my blog post from February 2010 for a few examples. Secondly, involvement of non-conservators invariably spells disaster. Again, witness the story of our old friend Cecilia Giménez and her restoration of the face of Jesus in the Spanish church of Santuario de la Misericordia near Zaragoza (September 2012). 

And thirdly, this is not a unique example of such an experience. Some years ago, an Australian conservator friend of mine couriered a clay artefact to an exhibition in Europe, seeing it placed in position and the display case locked, before she set off for her hotel.  Returning the next day to the exhibition for a final look before she headed home, she was surprised to see the display case had been moved. Checking the artefact through the glass, she detected firstly a crack and then some excess glue on the surface. The sorry tale was soon revealed – the display case had to be moved after my friend left, the artefact fell over and broke in two in the process and a panicking curator applied some Supaglue to try and make good.

But don’t blame it on the conservators!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conservation according to IIC

So a second week of international conservation conferences has just concluded with the IIC (International Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works) 2014 Biennial Congress in Hong Kong wrapping up on Friday. And the first thing to comment on is that two solid weeks of conferencing has in the end gone in a flash and not been as exhausting as I thought it would be, helped by the very different nature of ICOM-CC and IIC conferences and the different locations (Melbourne and Hong Kong). I noted that 24 conservators from  around the world attended both.

450 conservators attended IIC with, by my reckoning, about 50% of them Chinese speaking. That meant for a quality of dialogue I have never been exposed to in terms of exploring east vs west approaches to conservation (and for some occasional word mis-conversions by the translators, the best of which unfortunately cannot be repeated online!).

Takeaways for me from the papers were:
  • the extent of the cross over between craft skills and conservation in Chinese conservation projects.
  • the extraordinary richness of early Chinese textiles (11th Century and earlier) excavated from Tang, Han and Ming dynasty tombs and the challenges of their conservation.
  • the challenges of climate change in subtropical climates, where mould and increasing pest activity are requiring greater vigilance in collection care.
A great social program with receptions organised every night at respectively the Museum of Coastal Defence, the Heritage Museum, the British Consulate and the Asia Society. The highlight was the conference dinner on the Jumbo Floating Restaurant complete with a dotting the eyes on the lion ceremony and face mask magicians. Like all good conferences, the receptions are a key part of the show, as not only do conservators like to drink (in moderation of course), but it is where invariably I find the most useful networking is achieved.

However, the big news for IIC coming out of the conference was twofold. Firstly, we managed through a panel session to get agreement on the Environmental Guidelines we had drafted at the ICOM-CC conference. These have now been formally declared as a joint IIC / ICOM-CC position on environmental conditions and without a doubt moves us forward in this complex area. The next stage is to build on this declaration to provide more specific details.

Secondly, and somewhat unexpectedly, IIC ended up signing a MOU with the Palace Museum in Beijing to cooperate on a range of initiatives including a training program. How this came about was that the Director of the Palace Museum, Dr Jixiang Shan, was invited to give the Forbes Prize lecture, which is the Congress' equivalent of the key note address.  So impressed was Dr Shan by IIC and the congress that he delayed his flight back to Beijing to work through with us how such a relationship would work.

Although it is very early days, fundamentally this means that the good will and professional exchange that has been established with our South East Asian colleagues over the last week now has a mechanism by which this can be built upon.

Genuinely exciting times for conservation!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Conservation according to ICOM-CC

I'm in the midst of a busy fortnight of conferencing, having just completed a week in Melbourne at the ICOM-CC Triennial Conference and am now heading to Hong Kong for a further week at the IIC Biennial Conference. The (conference) stars of these two international conservation organisations only align every 6 years for obvious reasons, and for the first time the governing bodies of each have tried to bring them into the same part of the world and to run them in successive weeks. Whether that really works I shall tell you in a week's time!

But I can report on the conservation world according to ICOM-CC or to give its full title, International Council for Museums Committee for Conservation. 650 conservators met in Melbourne with what appeared to be a good spread from around the world, except for Asia, which I hope will be rectified in Hong Kong. The format of ICOM-CC conferences is based around working groups (covering everything from paintings and metals to preventive conservation and education). So, after initial formalities, the week quickly broke up into concurrent sessions of the working groups.

What therefore works wonderfully for me as a self proclaimed generalist (though many years ago I do remember I was a furniture conservator) is the opportunity to graze across working groups, cherry picking issues of interest to me, whilst also trying to ensure I am broadly up to date with what the various conservation disciplines are engaged in.

My highlights were:

  • Two separate papers on Mark Rothko's Untitled (black on maroon) 1958. This was the story of how a painting famously graffiti tagged at the Tate in 2010 was conserved. The first paper was about the analysis of the graffiti paint and the damage it caused, a tour de force in technical examination and research, and the second about its physical removal, a tour de force in patience, not least because the conservator had a time lapse camera on her throughout the nine months that treatment took. 
  • The story of how English Heritage in the face of massive financial and staff cutbacks delivered a new archaeological and architectural elements store that has transformed the quality of storage and access, for about a third of the original budget. A classic example of how necessity can breed innovative thinking.
My broader takeaways were:
  • Our understanding of the cause and effects of mould and dust on objects is getting deeper.
  • Research into contemporary artists' methodologies continues to be a vital tool in informing treatments.
  • Assessing and prioritising the conservation needs of collections has now a number of practical and tested models.
Get hold of the conference preprints if you can, as they contain a vast amount of information on where conservation research and treatment in all their forms are at.

What I can also report is that we made some solid progress in advancing the environmental guidelines for museums debate, through a workshop the day before the conference and a plenary session during the conference. At the former I facilitated a series of discussions between Australian conservators and museum directors, and at the latter we developed a draft position statement on this complex issue. That statement now goes forward to the IIC conference for further debate, the aim being to establish a joint ICOM-CC / IIC position. I will blog further on the details at the end of next week.

Until then, it's Hong Kong here we come.